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Diary of a Danceaholic

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Entry #3: One More, My Butt

“Mom, I should get backstage to wait for awards.” We just said goodbye to the thousandth dancewear rep and I was over it.

“You have some time, honey,” she said impatiently. “There’s a writer from Dance Magazine here that wants to get a statement from you for their blog.”

I sighed and nodded. “Sure, Mom.” I let her pull me back into the cafeteria where the wolves were waiting to pounce.

“Kelly?” my mom asked as we approached a younger woman with hair pulled back into a fierce black bun. She was certainly dressed like a journalist, in a black pantsuit that looked really uncomfortable. Based on her posture, I could tell she was a ballerina. She probably got injured, which ended her career, but couldn’t let go of the dance world, so she fell back on this job. I could see the flash of envy and sadness on her face as she locked eyes with me before plastering on a smile.

I watched her half-rise off the bench to shake hands with both of us and sat back down. We took our seats across from her and I tried not to slouch. My mom hated when I slouched.

“Thank you for coming to speak with me, Skyler,” she said pleasantly.

“Sky,” I mumbled.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Sky it is.” She made a note of it on her paper and my mom scowled at me, squeezing my knee threateningly under the table.

“Our readers want to know, Sky, what it’s like to compete at one of the biggest international dance competitions in the world?”

“It’s okay, I guess.” I felt another squeeze from my mother and had to resist the urge to wince. I scrambled for more to say to satisfy her. “It’s a huge honor to compete alongside the other amazing dancers like Reece Day, and Molly Clarkson. I wish everyone the best of luck today.”

Kelly smiled at me. “I saw your performance today, it was stunning. Who was the choreographer for your piece?”

“Antonio Fuego” I replied. Her eyes widened.

“That’s impressive,” she said. “What was it like working with him?”

“Oh, it was great!” I lied enthusiastically. “We got along really well. He is a tough choreographer for sure, but his pieces are magical. I loved every minute of our time together.” I gave her a tight-lipped smile, even though every word tasted like acid coming out of my mouth. Maybe she could tell I lied through my teeth, maybe not, but I didn’t care. If I told Kelly the truth it wouldn’t help anyone.

Antonio was impossible to work with and my mom made our situation worse by inserting herself where she had no business being. No one needed to know what it was really like to work with him. They’d find out for themselves when they hired him.

“Well, that’s wonderful!” Kelly said brightly. It was clear she had never actually met Antonio and only knew what the rest of the dance fans knew: Antonio was an amazing choreographer who produced nothing but award-winning routines and only worked with the best of the best.

Kelly was clearly impressed. I let her hold onto the illusion a little longer. Someone else could burst her bubble.

“Our readers want to know: Do you have any pre-performance rituals you do before you go out on stage?”

I’d been asked this question a lot. I couldn’t help the genuine smile that spread across my face.

“Yeah, I do. But I’ll only share part of it because the rest is too embarrassing to publish.”

Kelly laughed. She was intrigued. My mom laughed along, but hers was a knowing laugh laced with a threat. She had witnessed the embarrassing part a few times and warned me never to share it with anyone.

Before she had a chance to ask, I told Kelly the blog-worthy part of my “ritual.”

“I get ready just like everyone else, really. I do my hair, my makeup, and put on my tights one foot at a time. I warm up in the dressing room or the hallway, wherever there’s space, really. Once I’m backstage, that’s when the good luck rituals start. I have to review my routine, which I’m sure everyone does. But then, I have to pop all my fingers and toes before I can go on stage. And I do a quick shake of my arms and legs,” I demonstrate for her. “Then I’m ready to go.”

I offered another tentative smile to Kelly and she smiled back making quick notes on her pad of paper.

“I just have one more question before I let you go,” she said.

“Sure, I think I’ve got a little more time before awards,” I said politely. I wanted to get this over with so badly.

Kelly cleared her throat and said, “Where do you see yourself after high school?”

“Oof,” I said, letting out a long breath. “I’m really just focusing on taking it one day at a time. I have a couple of years before I graduate, so I’m not sure just yet. I’ll still be dancing, that much is certain,” I said and put my hands on the table effectively ending the interview.

Kelly took the hint. “Well, thank you, Sky, for taking the time to chat with me. I think I have everything I need.” She shook both my mom’s and my hands. “I’ll be in touch with the publishing date!” She said that like I was dying to know.

“Thank you. I look forward to it,” I said out of polite obligation. I turned and started to walk away. I heard my mom say goodbye to Kelly and listened to the sound of her quick steps catching up to me.

“Skyler, that was not one of your better interviews,” she said, the disappointment obvious in her tone.

I sighed heavily. “I know Mom, but I wanted to get to awards before we even started that interview.” I had had enough of people about three interviews ago, but she would never care. I did these things for her and her motherly pride…ego…pride.

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